Good Coffee

I was slow in developing an appreciation for good coffee.  For much of my life I favored quantity over quality.  I drank gallons of the cheap institutional coffee served up in my firm’s break room, starting when I arrived in the morning and not quitting until I went home at night.  Very often I’d put on a pot at 7 or so, when all the right-thinking people had already gone home to their families, and drink the entire thing.  I was hooked on it and it kept me wired.

Eventually my stomach couldn’t take it any more and on doctor’s orders I quit cold turkey.  That lasted a year or so until I ended up on a case that required me to travel to Brazil a lot.  Overnight flights meant I was usually tired and groggy when I was there, so I allowed myself  to partake of the delicious little demitasses of rich dark espresso that were brought into our meetings every couple of hours.  At first I only went off the wagon when I was in Brazil, but soon I was back into my old drink-it-all-the-time practice.

Only after I left that world and moved to the farm full-time did my coffee drinking practices change.  It’s just not practical to drink coffee all day while doing farm work, and I felt no desire to do so.  For the past few years I’ve had one good cup of cafe con leche in the morning and none after that.

And now I’ve gotten used to the good stuff.  I don’t have any interest in pots of Folgers anymore.

Of course a bag of coffee lasts a long time when you only drink one cup a day. For quite a while now I’ve been enjoying a great coffee that my daughter brought home from a study abroad program she did in Guatemala last year. But with that almost gone, it was time to restock.  So yesterday I bought a bag of freshly roasted and freshly ground Ethiopian coffee from our coffee-vending friends at the farmers market.  Even still in the bag it has an amazing aroma that filled the house.

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We’ve made the decision to only buy tea, coffee and chocolate that is certified fair trade.  It only costs a little more per cup to buy fair trade coffee.  These kind of third-party certifications aren’t ideal, but with so much distance between the growers and the users, I know of no other way to assure that that we aren’t contributing to the profits of corporations that are unfair to growers and workers.  Fortunately for us our friends at the market share that ethic, so we’re able to buy fair trade and help support their business as well.

Imagine what might happen if our coffee-loving culture decided en masse to buy only fair trade coffee.  In short order, all coffee would be fair trade.  In short order, all coffee growers and workers would be treated fairly.  We’d get great coffee, while help making the world a better place.  That would be a win-win.

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14 comments on “Good Coffee

  1. Jeff says:

    Imagine. The anthem of my generation.

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  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, even though I grew up on or around farming communities, I never drank coffee until I was almost 22 years old. It’s just one of the things that military life does. The choice was coffee or cigarettes and usually it was both for most of the recruits. Since coffee was free, I chose that. During my career years, it was not unusual to have a cup of coffee on my desk continually. I have no idea how many cups a day went down the gullet. Later when I worked nights for 20 years, coffee was the stimulant, like you, to keep me going. After retirement it was a natural thing to feed the addiction until stomach troubles arose again like you. I didn’t need a doctor’s orders and just cut down to one cup a day to get started in the morning. Unfortunately, I haven’t acquired the taste for the good stuff and it’s still Folger’s in my cup for the morning routine while visiting my favorite blogs.

    Have a great good coffee day.

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    • Bill says:

      Sounds like we’ve had similar coffee journeys. I was in my 20s when I started drinking it too. I never drank it in college, even when I needed to stay up all night studying. But by the time I got out of law school I was hooked on it.

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  3. I travelled to East Africa in the 1960s and was introduced to my first non-folgers type coffee. With Peggy, it was living in Panama. Neither one of us has ever ‘looked back,’ so to speak. Many of the coffees in our area claim to be fair trade. There is a coffee stand on every corner in Oregon. Or at least it seems that way at times. 🙂 –Curt

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  4. shoreacres says:

    I haven’t had Folgers or any of those in a couple of decades. Maybe longer — well, except when I go to my aunt’s house. I’ll have a couple of cups in the morning and one at night. My preference is Peet’s French Roast or Baby’s Cuban Roast. I’m sure you know Baby’s from Key West, but they have a place in Breaux Bridge now and when I’m over that way I pick some up. I’ve given up Starbucks entirely. In my opinion, they over-roast their beans, and the coffee’s a little bitter.

    Grandma’s Swedish coffee was the best, though. She boiled it on the stove in a special pot, and then cracked an egg into it to settle the grounds. Now and then, I’d get some and feel like an ever-so-big girl.

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    • Bill says:

      I’ve never heard of Swedish coffee, but it sounds interesting. Reminds me of a time I was meeting with a witness in Israel and he made us coffee. When I started drinking mine I saw that he must have forgotten to use a filter. “Sorry but there are grounds in the coffee,” I said. “It’s Turkish coffee,” he replied. “OK, but there are grounds in it,” I answered.

      I later felt like such a bumpkin.

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  5. EllaDee says:

    Happy International Coffee Day (Sept 29). This post is a timely reminder that our coffee habits matter. Pods are not environmentally friendly (http://www.smh.com.au/environment/recycling-issue-brewing-in-george-clooneys-nespresso-campaign-20140419-36xsm.html), and it’s not much of a search/effort to drink/buy fair trade coffee. Buying from local producers or re-sellers also keeps it local. And if you are buying takeaways using a “keep cup” reduces waste. We bought a home coffee machine about 4 years ago. If there was a fire it would be the first item out the door 🙂

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  6. It sure ain’t easy being green (or sustainable or ethical or organic) but I think we have to keep doing our part (living by example, educating through blog posts/conversations, etc…) to remind people of where their food (coffee included) comes from and under what conditions it was produced. We can’t turn a blind eye for convenience or to save a buck anymore – the information is out there and becoming more and more available.

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    • Bill says:

      Yes, I completely agree. I’m encouraged at the growing interest in ethical eating. Folks are coming to realize that there is a story behind everything we consume, and many are no longer willing to be a part of a story they don’t like.

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